Volunteers find formula to fix up Laurel school science lab -- Gazette.Net


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Audrey Briscoe doesn’t typically spend her Saturdays in the hallways of Oaklands Elementary School as the principal of the Laurel school puts in enough time during the week, but Saturday she said she was thrilled to spend a few extra hours working.

Briscoe was joined by a dozen volunteers who cleaned, redecorated and restocked the school’s science lab — their contribution to the National Day of Service, an event held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

“I’m delighted with the overwhelming response from the community,” Briscoe said. “This will be a wonderful surprise for our teachers and students.”

Volunteers swept, removed equipment, posted decorations and science posters donated by NASA, restocked science supplies and performed other tasks to get the room ready for use as a science lab again.

For a few weeks in the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, Oaklands’ science lab temporarily housed an overflow classroom from neighboring Laurel Elementary as construction was being completed on its new building.

While the lab was occupied, teachers conducted experiments in their classrooms, Briscoe said.

Board of Education member Zabrina Epps (Dist. 1) helped organize the event with representatives from the office of State Sen. James Rosapepe (D-Dist. 21) of College Park, who were looking for available area service projects.

“Right away I thought about Principal Briscoe and Oakland Elementary,” said Epps of Laurel. “So I asked if there was any project she needed done and she said she needed help fixing up the science lab, so I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to help out one of our schools.”

Briscoe said she was “ecstatic” so many came to volunteer at her school.

“I thought maybe there would be three or four, but to have so many coming out to help our school, it’s awesome,” she said. “I can’t wait for the teachers to see the finished product.”

Laurel resident Natasha Ettienne-Modeste, a 2012 graduate of the University of Baltimore, said she learned about the volunteer effort from a friend and decided it would be a good way to give back.

“There’s a part of me that really enjoys giving back to people in need,” Ettienne-Modeste said, adding that she enjoyed the opportunity to help out a local school and socialize with other volunteers.

Glen Burnie resident Amie Barnham, helping with her husband, Matthew, said she went to elementary school in Prince George’s County, so being able to help out a school science lab in her old community was a good fit, she said.

Laurel resident Chante Douglas said volunteering at the school not only gave her a chance to help others, but to teach. She brought her son Cameron, a student at Laurel’s Bond Mill Elementary, and his friend to help out as well.

“This is an opportunity to teach them about volunteering, helping others and giving back to the community,” Douglas said. “They have a life of luxury with iPods and video games, so this is good for them, to go out and help others.”

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net